Sports Sales and Marketing…Why Do We Go Different Directions?


As I go from team to team, a common theme I hear is “we’re not sure why marketing picks the themes they do” or “marketing puts out offers and we don’t even know.” A lot of ‘blame’ tends to be put on marketing, but in reality, what are we doing on our end in sales to make sure that we work cohesively?

On the flip side, I hear from marketing that sales just ‘does their thing’ and we are always 10 steps behind picking up the pieces. I find this to be true … and why? Because neither side is communicating.

A lot of marketing effort is put into the walk up sale…what will drive walk up traffic, what types of ideas/promos/’themes’. We, on the sales side, put our efforts into season, group, premium and ultimately filling the venue so sponsorship can do their job. So much more value can be brought to the organization if only we would stop working as independent units and start working as (imagine this…)…a team!

One of the best cohesive situations I found was back when I was in NY working with the WNBA NY Liberty. The team there had biweekly sales and marketing meetings…together…starting a month before the season and following through the season. These meetings gave each sales rep the opportunity to talk about their major sales projects for the next 30 days. This, in turn, gave marketing the opportunity to hear what was large and coming up, and led to discussions as to how a win could be achieved for everyone. Sometimes it was combining efforts with an idea marketing already had, and sometimes it gave them a spark to create an engaging marketing plan to get it going stronger. Then marketing would talk about what they had going on in the next 30 days and sales was able to offer if they had connected with anyone or how they might sell and enhance the marketing effort.

This was an opportunity of shared information, creative ideas, and a next steps plan. I could only marvel at every meeting I was fortunate enough to be part of at how strong this unit was. No two islands; only a peninsula attached to the organization and creating a win for all.

Let’s look at your team. How cohesively does sales and marketing work together? Do you have biweekly meetings together to share info and assist each other? Do you have any meetings? If not, what are some ways we change this?

  • Knowledge is important. Are we simply upset that we don’t work together or have we actually sat down over a tasty beverage and discussed how working together could enhance both departments? Sometimes I find that neither side realizes the value they can bring to each other.
  • Break down the barriers initially…Host an ‘ice cream’ meeting. Get ice cream, toppings, whipping cream, and wear striped vests and ice cream hats (Steak and Shake is great at sharing!) and send an invite out to the sales, marketing, promo, communications department that you have ‘a scoop’ for them. Enjoy some ice cream and bring up the topic of how we can best start working together. Have a big board and give everyone post its to come up with ideas to enhance communication and ideas. Make this a starting point.
  • Host an after the season thank you with ice cream. If your season is winding down, step up the to plate and host an ice cream social as a thank you to the departments who we need to be successful. How often do we ever say thank you as a department? Think about it…marketing, communications, promotions, fan services…all of them are crucial to helping sales do their job, and often we hit them up at the last minute and want miracles to happen. A little appreciation goes a long way.
  • Plan…don’t wing it. How often do we have stuff going on and then 2 nights before the game decide we need help from a department? I’ve seen it happen with virtually every department. They have a job to do, too, and these last minute requests can be enough to cause them to redo an entire section of an event or spend many additional hours making sure it happens. If you can’t do biweekly meetings, then at the very least send an overview once a month of all that is coming up so other departments have the ability to look, plan, and ask questions…thus eliminating the surprises.
  • Make sure the meetings are constructive. Nothing is worse than turning a meeting into a blame session. Have an agenda each meeting and stick with it. Sales, mark down by rep what is coming up in the next month. Marketing, mark down your key promotions for the month and any other ideas you may have. Stick to the agenda and make great things happen!

It’s time we stop going our own separate ways and make plans to work together. Remember, everyone is and should be a contributing member of the organization. Contribute together and instead of individual drops, you create a pool…a pool of ideas and ways to enhance each other’s work. No one department is ever more important than another. We need all of you to succeed. Working together, we not only succeed, but we excel…both on and off the field.

How does YOUR sales and marketing team enhance your organization? Please share! We would love to hear success stories.

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

Top Tier Sales Training for Your Sales Reps:

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